Ok, I have to admit that it`s a while since I visited Maui, but back then I have cheched out this island thoroughly and feel able to tell you something about it.
Maui`s nickname is the „Valley Isle“ and is actually divided in 2 parts that are connected through a broad and falt valley. The smaller northwestern part is where you will find most of the island. Between Lahaina and Kapalua are the best known beaches where you can go for a swim in the ocean.
Lahaina and Kaanapali, the best known towns
In Lahaina and Kaanapali you will find one resort next to the other and both towns do live from tourism. Kihei in the southwest has caught up and promotes itself as a family destination. Life is a bit more relaxed and most of the resorts offer condo style accomodation. The luxury resorts are located on the nortwestern tipp in Kapalua and in the southern district of Wailea. And as on most of the Hawaiian islands there are lots of golf courses.
The bigger southern part of Maui is dominated by the 10.000 feet high Haleakala, a dormant volcano, which names translates to house of the rising sun. I will explain why later.
You can’t make a full circle around Maui, so I will split my excursion in three parts. I will start our tour in Lahaina. In the 19th century this was the most important town in Hawaii. The first white settlers, missionairies from New England, built their new homes here. There goal was to bring Christianity to the pagans. Back in those days Lahaina had a very bad reputation, since the port was being used mainly by whalers, that landed here after months at sea and were looking for provisions and fun for the seamen. The missonairies were shocked whent hey first landed here, mainly due to the almost naked natives.
Lahaina, a town with history
Front Street still is the main street of the town and is nowadays home to art galleries and restaurants. On the makai (oceanside) side of the street you will find opportunities to drink a sundowner and have dinner with spectacular views. Front Street is the starting point of a historic walk, which will lead you to the most important points of the past. The best location to start your walk is the Baldwin Home Museum,located in one of the oldest houses in town. It was built by Dwight Baldwin who was one of the first settlers to arrive here.
We continue through a small street that leads us to Lahaina Public Library.The lawn in front of the library used to be a large taro field, before it was converted in a lawn in the 1950`s. Next stop is the Hauola Stone. This piece of rock was seen as a healing stone by the Hawaiian priests. We continue to the light house, which is actually the oldest on the islands. The Pioneer Inn is the oldest hotel on the island and had famous patrons, such as Frnak Sinatra. The Banyan Tree (pictured above) covers with its branches a bit over 40.000 square feet. Those banyan trees are traditionally the meeting point in every Hawaiian village. This one was planted in 1873. Across the street is the Courthouse where in 1898 the American flag was flown for the first time on the islands.
Back on Front Street take a right and youb will come Episcopal Church, transferred from across the street back in 1909. When you reach Maluuluolele Park take a trun into Shaw Street and then into Waineè Street. There you’ll see the oldest church on the islands built of stone. On the adjacent cemetry you can visit Queen Keopuolanis grave. She was the first Hawaiian queen that converted to Christianity. On Luakini Street you’ll see the oldes buddhist temple of Hawaii.
From we continue to Prison Street. As the name already says, you will see the old prison of Lahaina. The Hawaiian name for the building is Hale Paahao, which means house with the iron bars. You follow Waine’e Street and take a left into Hale Street. Here you can visit Hale Aloha (House of love), which was built in 1858 in memory of the almost 6.000 people that died of the smallpox. This is the last stop on our historic Lahaina tour.
North of Lahaina is the resort twon of Kaanapali. Not a grown town, but a mere collection of hotels. The few high rises of the island are to be found here. And the longest stretch of beach of the island. In ancient times this area was strictly dedicated to the royals. One attraction to be named is the Whalers Village a mall withlots of stores and a Wahlers Museum. If you want to experience a luau, you should go to the Royal Lahaina, one of the best of the islands. Kaanapaliis the best palce to be, when you plan a few days on the beach while visiting the islands. But it would be a shame, if you take the long fight just to relax on the beach. That’s why I will continue with the tour.
If you like a more quiet vacation spot and still need a beach, you will love Napili Bay. On this small bay there are only two hotels. One of them is the Napili Kai Beach Resort with the Sea House right on the beach. They offer great food and fantastic views of the neighboring island of Lanai. A dream come true.
Kapaluais home to some very exclusive hotels and with DT Fleming Beach Park alos offers a beach that is not so crowded. And you will come across this ancient school house, where it must have felt like torture, if you had to attend class. I don’t think I would have survived this.
Just beyond Kapalua the street narrows to one lane and you should be ready for adventures if you continue. Those who have the guts will be rewarded with great views of Moloka’i. The road wriggles through towering cliffs. To the right they tower above the street and ton the left they fall steeply into the sea. If you meet oncoming traffic it can happen that you will have to drive in reverse for a while before you will find a plac where they can pass. On this road the route becomes the destination. And it is not for weak nerves. On the northern most tipp of the island you can visit Nakalele Blowhole. Once you have left this spot behind the road continues still very narrow and it does lead through rolling hills where you can discover a pristine part of Maui. Todays tour ends in Kahului, the administrative capital of Maui.
Kahului is also the town where you will find the airport. Apart from that there is not much to see in this big city, Hawaiian speaking, with 26.000 inhabitants. Next to the airport you will find a few shopping center with supermarkets. This is good to know, if you have rented a Condo and want to cook your own meals.
This is the end of todays tour. I hope you did enjoy it.
And as usual, I would be happy to read your comments. And if you have any questions concerning the Hawaiian islands, fell free to contact me.